By Denise Herrera-Jackson
The proverbial saying – it seems like it was only yesterday – is definitely an understatement when planning for, producing, and presenting the annual Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival. From the wrap-up of the previous year’s festival to the start-up for the current festival, it means that the required plans, programming, meetings, actions, reports, permits, and requests for information, funding and sponsorship must be completed to ensure that the festival takes place.
Realistically, the planning cycle for a festival of this size should be 18 to 24 months to ensure that we at the Festival Management Committee, can produce the type of events that will raise the profile of our Caribbean cultural arts and products to the level that they are comparable with the wider society. We have some fantastic artisans, artists, designers, composers, performers, and producers who continue to provide unique cultural products that present the living and performance art that is the backbone of the festival. We need to showcase and share our cultural artistry with other Canadian artists and the wider society to ensure that our art forms are well respected and admired.
The story of the Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival is a story of family and community sharing the passion for our culture within our community and the Carnival worlds from which we came. We have to commend the commitment of the producers of the Carnival arts – bandleaders and their family of designers, artists, and artisans who bring imagination to life; the pannists who continue to bring to demonstrate the possibilities of turning a recycled product into a musical instrument, and the calypsonians who capture life as it passes by.
While the festival events bring the traditional Carnival culture of our community to life, we need to add other components so that our festival measures up to other festivals in this city, province and country. Connecting to and presenting the history of the festival using exhibitions and other educational tools such as workshops, design exchanges, and symposiums will add other dimensions to our annual festival and its cultural profile.
The photographs of our festival demonstrate joy and pride in who we are – the type of pride that ensures that the younger members of our community understand, appreciate, and embrace the Carnival culture within the Canadian context. Their interpretations of Carnival culture will definitely change the look and feel of the annual festival. But today, we can continue to capture the history of the festival digitally and create a historical repository that would tell our story as this young cohort advance through life.
The Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival was recently invited to be featured in Vogue Japan by Tourism Toronto. The editor was writing a feature on the ” top five things to do in Toronto according to Megan Markle” – the Duchess of Sussex. We made it. Check it out at: https://www.vogue.co.jp/lifestyle/travel/2018-07-01/5thingstodo
Let’s look forward to the 2018 Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival – a festival that we proudly say is Canada’s Celebration of Freedom and Diversity.
(Denise Herrera Jackson is the CEO of the Festival Management Committee, organizers of the Peeks Toronto Caribbean Carnival.)